According to the latest Health Survey results one in nine children in New Zealand is obese and a further two are overweight. Childhood obesity spans all ethnicities, genders and levels of deprivation.
The Ministry of Health is encouraging schools to adopt healthy drink policies following information being provided to all schools by the Ministry of Education. Essentially, a simple schools drinks policy recommends only water and plain reduced fat milk are available to students, removing access to drinks such as soft drinks, flavoured milks and sports drinks.
“Sugary drinks can cause tooth decay and contribute to childhood obesity,” says Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor – Child and Youth Health.
“Obesity is particularly worrying in children because it’s associated with a wide range of health conditions.”
This is the first step in a very positive direction for NZ students, as the Ministry of Health supports schools in creating a healthy food environment, as part of a larger plan to reduce obesity and diet-related non-communicable disease, recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Additionally, this announcement supports work around implementation of the Childhood Obesity Plan.
Through an array of health promoting initiative aims, the Childhood Obesity Plan seeks to prevent and manage obesity in children and young people up to 18 years of age. Particularly encouraging is the aim seeking to engage food industry, recognising its role in marketing and advertising to children, and its health implications.
Well done, New Zealand! Hopefully more countries will soon follow suit, making water the drink of choice!